January is that month that opens many of us to a whole 365 days of potential opportunities and with great thoughts of what we can do “this” year. I usually prefer to use September as my “new year” rather than January, but this year I decides to switch things up.
I began by re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before. Again, something I don’t normally do — I dislike rereading books, so the book has to be influential in my life to warrant me to read it a second time. The last time I read this book was in 2015! If you want to see what I found life changing when I read it last time, check out these posts: No Finish Line, Finish or Not Part 2, and book review.
I finished this book with a whole new perspective of habit strategies that I seemed to miss last time. Yep, I have a huge list to different strategies that can be used individually or in combination to change or master habits in my life. The Strategy of Tendencies — are you an obliger, questioner, rebel or upholder? — made me see myself more accurately. Well, no surprise which tendency I lean into most, but I was hoping I’d be an upholder. Alas, I am a solid obliger. Rubin explains that “Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. They’re motivated by external accountability.” [p21] That me all the way. I sign up for online classes with deadlines so I’ll have external accountability. I hire coaches to keep me accountable. I enlist friends to check up on whatever I am trying to accomplish. What to figure out which of the four tendencies you are? Take Rubins quiz HERE to discover your tendency.
This time as I read through Better Than Before I saw the strategy framework so much clearer than the last time that I read this book. The Strategy of Foundation suggests that when your foundation is strong that you will be able to foster good habits. [“First Things First” pp 58-73] In the end, it is up to each one of us what comes first for us — but the Foundation Four tend to be the starting point for most people.
Foundation Four [p 59]
- Eat and drink right
Do you recognize a few of them? Did you “decide” that one or more of those needed a “new” habit attached to them for 2023? I did. I put “eat and drink right” as number one with “move” a close second.
The pillars of habit formation are those strategies that ungird many habit building desires. You may even not think of them as strategies that may make your aim or resolution or habit more doable and less hampered by decision fatigue. These pillars are the Strategy of Monitoring, Strategy of Foundation (as mentioned above), Strategy of Scheduling and Strategy of Accountability. Regardless of which strategy pillars you incorporate, it will come down to your tendency that you discovered in the quiz above. “For instance, the Strategy of Scheduling works for most people –but not for Rebels. The Strategy of Accountability works for most people–and it’s essential for Obligers.” states Rubin. [p43]
Rubin lists three strategies that take their power from newness — new endeavours, new circumstances and new ideas. The Strategy of the Clean Slate is what motivates many individuals from setting out to embark on new habits as New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, like me, you are well aware that those resolutions rarely make it past Quitter’s Day (January 13th). To make a habit or two stick for the long haul usually means combining several strategies together. However, what works for me may not work for you, so it’s important to know yourself to be successful.
The amount of effort you put into a habit could help — Strategy of Abstaining, Strategy of Convenience, and Strategy of Inconvenience. Or perhaps, you need to address the challenges of failure or temptations as in Strategy of Safeguards, Strategy of Loophole-Spotting, or the Strategy of Distractions. Exploiting pleasure to strengthen your intended good habits may be your difference maker: Strategy of Reward, Strategy of Treats and Strategy of Pairing. Then considering yourself in comparison to another person trying to accomplish a similar goal may be your motivator to keep going. This group of strategies “illuminate our individual values, interest, and temperament” [p 221]: Strategy of Clarity, Strategy of Identity and Strategy of Other People.
This time when I reread Better Than Before, I saw the strategies framework much more clearly. Last time, I honed in on the Strategy of Rewards or No Finish Line. Why? Well, that’s where that diet you started on January 1st ends for one reason or another versus changing what you eat and drink to live a healthier longterm lifestyle that changes you from the inside out. To make it to maintenance when you reach your desired wellness outcome, you need to know yourself, how to keep the momentum and stay the course for the long haul. No decision making. No wavering. Just simply doing those habits that got you to where you want to stay — where a habit becomes a rhythm in your life.
Creating a healthy life built from healthy habits may take a coach for many individuals. If you have made it to the end of January, caved into Quitter’s Day, but still want to make some positive healthy nutrition and wellbeing habits, then set up a Discovery Chat with Brenda. A Discovery Chat is a free chat where you can ask a question or two and decide if having a nutritional health coach could be your difference maker. Call today to schedule your FREE Discovery Chat.
You may find Dr Annette Bosworth’s YouTube videos about “Atomic Keto” based on the ketogenic way of eating and the habits book, Atomic Habits, come together.